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Star Carlton midfielders Patrick Cripps and Adam Cerra have been sidelined with injury, while Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas has fallen out of favor once again ahead of the Power’s top-table clash with Collingwood.
Cripps (corked leg) and Cerra (hamstring strain) were ruled out of Saturday’s game against West Coast at Marvel Stadium as a precaution, and the duo joined forward Harry McKay (knee) on the sidelines.
West Coast will be without star defender Jeremy McGovern (concussion) and midfielder Reuben Ginbey (hamstring), but Jack Petruccelle is back from injury and last week’s substitute Andrew Gaff is back at 22.
Port has been boosted by the returns of Trent McKenzie, Willie Rioli, Charlie Dixon and Jason Horne-Francis among the five changes for the blockbuster against the Magpies at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
But Jonas, who had been out of the team since round 10 before returning for last week’s 50-point loss to Carlton, has been dropped again.
The Magpies welcome forward Brody Mihocek and ruckman Darcy Cameron, with Billy Frampton among the omissions.
Fremantle have lost Sean Darcy, Brandon Walker, Nathan O’Driscoll, James Aish and Bailey Banfield to injury for Saturday night’s assignment against Sydney in Perth.
Caleb Serong returns from suspension, while Hayden Young and Michael Frederick return from injury.
Former Suns forward Josh Corbett has received a recall for only his second appearance for the Dockers.
Sydney welcomes Jake Lloyd and Chad Warner but has lost Lewis Melican to injury.
Richmond sprinter Maurice Rioli was ruled out less than a week after refusing to take a phone call from coaches after being substituted in Sunday’s win over West Coast.
Rhyan Mansell has replaced Rioli in the side for Saturday’s game against Hawthorn at the MCG.
The Hawks opted to drop ruckman Lloyd Meek.
Melbourne have named Brodie Grundy on an extended bench for Sunday’s game against Adelaide.
Grundy was sent to the VFL last week to work on his striker trade, but could return in a Demons side that recalled Adam Tomlinson to replace Harrison Petty (ribs).
The Crows called up Matt Crouch for only his second AFL game of the year, but Rory Laird (shoulder) and Josh Rachele (suspension) are out.
Essendon fired Sam Weideman and brought in Nik Cox for Friday night’s game with the Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.
The Bulldogs recover Bailey Smith from illness.
Brisbane has been boosted by the return of Josh Dunkley and Callum Ah Chee for Saturday’s vital game against Geelong at the Gabba, but Zac Bailey is out with a calf injury.
North Melbourne lost George Wardlaw (hamstring), Cam Zurhaar (ankle) and Callum Coleman-Jones (concussion) for their match against St Kilda.
Jack Higgins is back for the Saints, and he could be joined by Jack Billings, who has been named in an extended trade bench.
Dog players feel the heat with the finals on the line
Western Bulldogs manager Luke Beveridge is delighted to have his players help boost standards as they take on a season-defining game against Essendon.
A loss to the Bombers in a sold-out Marvel Stadium on Friday night could drop the Bulldogs from seventh to 12th.
However, a win would cement their position in the top eight as they attempt to play finals for the fifth straight season.
The Bulldogs are coming off a heartbreaking two-point loss against Sydney, after which Beveridge questioned some unnamed individual players for playing roles that cost his team the game.
Bulldogs midfielder Adam Treloar said this week that the club had to treat the remaining six games as final.
“Those words haven’t come out of my mouth, but I like the way (Treloar) is thinking,” Beveridge said. “There is no time like the present. If our players use that kind of terminology, that’s fine with me.
“I’m a dreamer, I’m a believer, I’m someone who doesn’t let go until it’s done.
“I tell our players that we are capable of anything, but it remains to be seen.”
Essendon sit eighth and are coming off a crushing 77-point win over Premiers Geelong at the Cats’ stronghold Kardinia Park last Saturday night.
But the Bulldogs will treat the Bombers as if they are going to come out in the brilliant form they showed against Adelaide a week earlier.
“His offensive brilliance has been quite evident in some of his games,” Beveridge said.
“They also had a bit of a shooting against Adelaide, so we can see where their threats are. They will be a handful.
“The Bombers work hard to make sure that at the end of the year they finish in the top eight, like us, so like Sydney last week, they’re just as dangerous as any team back in the day.”